The Bear Cafe got its illustrious start in the 1980s when Albert Grossman—the visionary manager to Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin, Todd Rundgren, and more—opened a cozy little spot on the Sawkill Creek to wine and dine the world-famous musicians recording at his legendary Bearsville studio. The restaurant’s rustic converted farmhouse vibes and superb cuisine connected musicians to the beauty and bounty of the Catskill Mountains in an atmosphere of stylish celebration.
In 2022, after a two-year closure, the restaurant reopened to much acclaim in a completely reimagined, renovated location next door. At the helm are Chef Josh Rajala and General Manager Christopher J. Hack, who are reinterpreting Grossman’s philosophy for a modern Woodstock and delivering exceptional hospitality with warmth and style in the same spirit as “The Bear” himself.
A Culinary Institute-trained chef, Rajala’s fine dining, farm-to-table menu artfully blends together fresh, new creations with reinterpretations of the famous meals of his predecessors at the Bear Cafe from the 80s and 90s.
In the year since the restaurant reopened, Rajala has become known for delivering outstanding handmade food using fresh, local, and often organic ingredients that he has personally sourced from the Hudson Valley’s incredible diversity of growers and artisans. A passionate foodie, he places great emphasis on creating his dishes from scratch (don’t sleep on his handmade egg pasta). Rajala’s finely tuned fare is perfectly complemented by Hack’s stunning hand-crafted cocktails and an extensively curated wine list.
Equally worthy of note is the restaurant’s artful design and gorgeous surroundings. The restaurant is nestled on 16 bucolic wooded acres on the edge of Woodstock, the Catskill mountain town where the counterculture revolution of the 60’s began. The campus is also home to the iconic Bearsville Theater, a “Listening Room” created by Grossman.
Long-known for its celebrity sightings, the restaurant’s walls are lined with photographs from its illustrious history, including never-before-printed pictures of historic guests such as Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, and The Band, alongside contemporary visitors such as The Lumineers.
Both the riverside dining room and the cozy bar look out over the picturesque Sawkill Creek. The interior delivers a strong sense of place, inspired by the bluestone river rocks of the creek bed and the stunning old-growth trees that surround it. Floor-to-ceiling windows and vintage wood fixtures, together with velvet seating in a Midcentury Modern Scandinavian style, deliver appealingly clean, simple lines without sacrifice to comfort.
Whether you’re looking for a private dining event for 12 or an intimate dinner for two, the reimagined Bear Cafe delivers the best in luxurious fine dining paired with serene, picturesque Catskills environs—just as Grossman intended.
For reservations, visit Bearcafe.com.